I’m reading a great book right now. Great writing, great story, great woman.
(I’ll eventually review her book so I don’t want to mention who it is at this time. I’ve been a fangirl for 5+ years. Leaving her identity out because it’s not the point).
She’s white. She’s a stay-at-home Mommy. She’s a writer. A good writer. Like so many of the blogs I read, she bears those three traits.
I have no problems with white, writer, stay-at-home Mommies. None at all. I’d be amiss not to point out how deeply I’ve been blessed by all the bloggers who fit in this category. So. so. many.
The problem for me is, I don’t fit any of those categories. I’m biracial. I work out of the house full-time. I’m not a writer by trade, I’m a communicator who enjoys blogging online.
I don’t see enough of me-ish online. I don’t get enough of folks who look like me, or work like me, or think like me to NOT feel I’m doing life all wrong. Too little of my real life resembles the aforementioned categories.
I get stuck in the comparison game. i.e. “She stared at her baby & prayed for 2 hours each day while nursing. I mostly ignored my babies while they nursed & watched Seinfeld re-runs.”
When anyone doesn’t see of themselves-ish in major conferences, or media, or magazine covers one begins to feel their life (hair, body, skin color, relationship status, etc.) -as is- is wrong. wrong. wrong.
I’m no different than the average black woman, I suppose…trying to find myself in between those stories and…..not.
My house is actually messy. My marriage is actually messy. I’m a good Mom who really struggles with enjoying parenting & feels like a bad Mom…a lot. Not a good Mom pretending to be a bad Mom because apparently that’s a thing now. There are deep and profoundly important theological issues I think about and would love to write about but can’t create brain space for. I’m awash in -it seems- crisis after crisis.
As for yoke-fellows…I’m not looking hard enough first off. I realized this about a year ago when I created two new Twitter lists to begin my journey: 1). Black Christian Bloggers 2). Women of Color Bloggers.
That has been a GREAT way for me to lend intentionality to who and what I’m reading. (Though, to be honest, I’ve been in inner turmoil for the past 4 months and haven’t read much of anything). But when I do read black women, who work full-time or mother full-time, or navigate messy marriages and homes and people and families, I breathe a little easier. I see myself-ish & my soul fills a little more.
I have a Godfather. The other day he said, “where are your black people, Grace?” I said, “I know. I know.” He said, “it’s been two years.” Yep. He’s right. It’s been two years & I’m dying a little inside I think.
We talked about how my life dynamic has continued to move away from more interactions with my black friends and peers to less and less. When I worked for InterVarsity my primary position was to step on college campuses and start new campus groups with black students. Besides the near constant contact with my students I got to invest in and be invested by black staff from all over the U.S. But all that was two years ago.
In the meantime, I live in a white neighborhood, in a not-very-diverse Mid-western town, I’m married to a white dude, I go to a white church & I work with all white people. God bless my neighborhood, my husband, my church, my office. God bless each and every one. The problem is not too many white people per se, it’s when I’m not intentional enough to maintain and develop my black friendships which so easily get pushed and pressed out to the furthest periphery.
The other day, I posted on Facebook about three of my former InterVarsity students, Meshell, Tia & Patrice. They’ve all 3 invested so deeply in me in the past few months with prayers and encouragement, challenges & accountability. They’ve all said in one way or another they fear they’ve been too hard on me. I understand this given I was their InterVarsity staff worker/mentor/discipler. Sometimes switching those roles even a decade later can be jarring. Yet, I told them, “No! I need YOU to do this. I need YOU to say these things.” Honestly? I haven’t wanted to hear it from anyone but my black friends & my two biracial besties.
It’s hard to explain without sounding like a total racist asshat, yet it’s true. I’ve been through a certain type of personal hell in the last 4 months that I’ve been too fearful no one will understand enough to offer empathy. I’ve let others in, writing emails and asking for prayers in private facebook groups and such, but I’ve also been more guarded than ever before.
In part, I’ve rarely been so consistently angry. Even those close to me don’t exactly know how to deal with the gargantuan levels of anger bubbling under the surface and how can they when I don’t either? So, I’ve closed myself off a little bit. Not everyone is going to understand what I’m going through any old ways. That’s what I used to think in my naivete…that if I just kept talking or writing eventually people fully understand, racing to offer compassion and hugs. Some do. Most don’t.
I’ve struggled to post here. I can’t possibly pull together a post about what I’m into or anything that could be potentially construed as happy. I give myself an extremely short leash for fakery. I throw on the make-up and killer heels & do it up big for Intstagram but even my rapid plunge into hair and makeup as of late is another place to hide. It’s fun, it passes the time, it’s harmless. It’s not drugs. It’s not alcohol, it’s makeup (and I refuse to apologize for it). The makeup has become the words of expression I’m grasping for.
I’m far too close to the trauma of the past 4 months to begin writing about it so I keep writing around the edges, not giving away too much -hopefully- but trying to remain present.
I don’t want to be ‘that black blogger’ who disappeared under the weight of it all. Where does that leave the ones who look to my voice for the very things I’m looking for others to be for me?
Someone looking like me-ish.
Someone fighting her demons.
Someone fighting for faith, asking the hard questions.
Someone not all-the-way given up.
Someone unafraid to confront racism & sexism.
Someone who’s raging, angry about marriage, parenting & domesticity.
Someone who’s life can’t get neatly tied up in a bow because her passions (black people) and her concerns (racism, poverty) aren’t trendy….or whatever.
Lord willing, I won’t let this place become a ghost town while I’m still alive because that will -likely- mean I’ve given up on so many of the things that matter to me.
I write to make sense of the world, as the old famous quote goes. I share what I write to make sense of hope.
If I didn’t have hope that I could still somehow, make a difference in someone’s life I’d pack my proverbial bloggerly bags.
My little writerly efforts are proof I’m still here.
God has given me-ish another day.